How To Make Your Project An Internet Sensation


We’d like to spend some time talking about documenting your project and sharing it with the world. For many, the goal is to become an Internet sensation, hopefully for the right reasons. Taking a bit more time to make certain you do a great job of sharing your information will pay off. Here at hackaday.comwe focus on technological wonders but these guidelines should work well at improving the desirability of anything you might want to share on the interweb.


1. Pictures

Yes, you need to have a picture to go with your project. Even if you did something that can’t be captured on camera you must have a photo. An example of this is the main photo for our recent udev rules post. It’s just a udev logo with some words but it immediately shows what the article is about.

This is doubly important for concept illustrations, flow control charts, schematics, assembly diagrams, etc. Visual materials complement your writeup. They also encourage readers to spend more time looking at your project, once again increasing the chance that they’ll share this with others.

Multiple pictures are a huge plus, even if some of them are just links to photo sharing sites. There are many examples of posts that show a few pictures and then have a linkpointing to more. Having several eye-catching shot options to choose from increases the chance that someone will blog about your project. Think of the extra photos as your press kit.


2. Descriptions for all levels of readers

Have you just completed something that is cool for everyone to look at but the gory details require specialized background knowledge? Make sure you include a layman’s description of what you set out to do and what was accomplished. But don’t make the mistake of dumbing everything down, many readers are looking for things they can learn from and adapt into their own projects. Strike a nice balance that includes a general overview at the beginning, details in the middle, and a conclusion that gives a broad overview of your accomplishments.


3. Submit it yourself

Hoping that everyone you know will head to your site and then tell your friends about it? Why not be more active? You can submit your project directly to Hack a Day; most popular sites have some way of doing this. If you’ve asked questions on your favorite forum throughout the project, make sure you post an update to all of those threads with a link to the finished project page. We always want to see the fruits of one’s labor so we subscribe to threads that look interesting. This added step will bring the kind of traffic you want: the admirers who wish theyhad pulled off the feat that you completed.


4. Site stability

Often called the Digg effect or the Slashdot effect, having your site go down because of traffic is a bad thing. If you want everyone in the world to take a look at your project, make sure you have chosen a host that can handle the traffic. Clicking through to a dead link will turn readers away (obviously). If you’re hosting on your home server, keep the link to yourself and your closest friends.


5. Post follow-ups

Did you find a way to make your project better? Make sure to post a follow-up, then link it at the bottom of the original post and vice-versa. A great example of this is the twatch, which had a twatch-in-a-picture-frame follow-up. The original project was an interesting one, the follow-up is eye-catching and fun; each builds on the popularity of the other. Once you’ve posted a useful followup, go back to step 3 and promote it!


6. No Spamming, no cheating

Flooding forums or emails that are unrelated to your project is Spam. The same goes for leaving links in comments that don’t have any relation to what you accomplished. If you are trying to syphon hits by tricking people into clicking a link then you are cheating. Become a sensation for the right reason: because people love your project.

Conclusion: it didn’t work

Well, there’s only room for so many sensations. But, if you followed our advice you have a quality writeup of your post and we’re certain many people took a look at it. This builds your reputation and increases the chances that your next project could go viral.

22 thoughts on “How To Make Your Project An Internet Sensation

  1. You’ve forgotten a key element of saving yourself from crashed servers: unload as much bandwidth heavy content as you can onto other sites.

    Always post your videos on YouTube or Vimeo, and if you’re really short on bandwidth your photos can go to Flickr or imgur. Even a crappy home server can handle a lot of load if it’s just transmitting text and your media is on a professionally managed server.

  2. In Mike’s defense.. perhaps you should make up your minds. First we (myself included) bitched about poor quality postings. Then you bitched about bad documentation. PERHAPS, you should consider that if it’s a good hack, but lacking on ‘proper’ documentation (and hacking ‘style’) then this may be useful to those less fortunate in the ways of ‘good style’..

    You can’t possibly imagine how terrible some websites and the general understanding of good writing really is (then again, maybe you do if you’ve been paying attention)..

    Just a thought..

  3. I think step three misses a very important aspect of user submitted content. Ignore everything your users say, they have no idea what they want or what they are talking about. If you don’t ignore it, they get some horrible ego issues and criticize everything. YouTube is a perfect example of the cesspool that is created by not ignoring your user base enough. So be sure to pretend to care, but never really listen to your users.

  4. I agree with what Dean Putney stated above. another thing to keep in mind is the SIZE of your images. photoshop and many other photo editing programs have options to save streamlined picture files with very small sizes.

    A high quality DSLR can take really nice photos but the output image files is often 3MB+, shrinking down to a reasonable resolution for a web guide, say 800×600 or 1024×768 (resolution depend on how much detail you need in the picture) then using some stream-lineing options to balance quality with size you can get your photos under 100K a piece. if you want to thumbnail them too you can save even more bandwidth.

    In photoshop I even created an action script to automatically shrink and streamline my photos, then I use wordpress on my site which automatically thumbnails them for me. Vidoes are on youtube and I have a WP plugin to easily embed them on my site. these tools allow me to get my updates posted quickly so I can concentrate on the interesting stuff as opposed to manually futzing with photos and html for hours.

  5. this site has been an asset in many areas, but it seems like this post is excluding the following factors necessary to become well-known on the internet:

    1) high quality SEO work

    2) great content

    3) visually interesting

    4) recommended by other people

    5) simple to understand

  6. An addendum to [twistedsymphony]’s post above:

    1) Remember: crop is your friend! You won’t have to scale down as much (if at all) if there’s less useless stuff around the edges of your images. This will help preserve those all-important details.

    2) Don’t post blurry close-ups just because you don’t have a macro mode! Just max out the resolution, get as close as your camera can focus, and crop the rest off.

    3) Also, once you’ve scaled down (especially to thumbnail size) use a sharpen filter. You don’t have to go crazy with it – I usually use an unsharp-mask with a radius of from 0.5 to 1.5 pixels and < 25% power – but it will make a world of difference in clarity.

  7. Completed the game yesterday night right after playing for practically 1 week.
    To start with, the game appeared just great adequate to kill some time with
    wonderful “old school” battle mechanics, but through the time the demo was in excess of
    I was craving for additional! What’s a lot more, I bought the game and was advancing, since it grew all the more addictive. Close to the finish of the game, when almost everything is explained I was astonished by such an angrossing story and just could not place it down. I am absolutely going for your sequels the moment they come out. I gotta say. Great task!!!! The game was terrific!!!!

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